To write a novel, don’t write a short story instead!

 

This month, I have mostly been side-tracked by the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, which is a huge international competition that I’ve entered for the past couple of years.

Normally, I’ve had a story that I can refresh for this, and send off without too much fuss. But this year I had nothing. At the beginning of the month, I decided to write a new story for the 1 November deadline.

I sat with my pen in my hand, and an 82 year old woman who lives in a caravan, and who’s been in my head for a few months (I thought she might be a novel, at first), fought herself onto the page. And then a 16 year old boy walked past her van and they started talking.

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Celebrating the first draft…

I’m now editing. I have little notes, as I always do, littering the page that say More Here, and I’m trying really hard to describe the sound of helicopter rotor blades.

Scarily, it doesn’t have a title, yet. On the whole, the title comes first for me, and the story wraps itself into it. Because my octogenarian came first, the title was overlooked. And now I’m floundering a little. What if it never comes? What if I have to send it off with the title ‘Story’?

Deep breath, eat chocolate… ahh, that’s better.

By November, I’ll be back on my novel, which will at that point be officially not a novel in a year, because it began life during last year’s National Novel Writing Month… Where’s that chocolate?


 

Congratulations to George Saunders who has won this year’s Man Booker Prize, with his first full length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. See, short story writers are awesome!

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The nature of short stories

Some bloggers excel at sharing with guests who bring their extensive knowledge with them, while others dive into the deep and meaningful, with carefully researched quotes to back up their argument. When I decided to start a blog, I had no contacts, no author friends at all – I was a complete writing loner – so I didn’t anticipate anyone reading it at all. I basically use my blog as a diary.

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My new book stand!

So, when I have a deep and meaningful thought, and decide to write a blog post about it, I fall short – my entire deep and meaningful thought took a single sentence… which is not a blog post, it’s a tweet!

Hence, I’m writing a long and rambling intro, in the hope that it will distract from the shallowness of my thought.

The nature of short stories (starting here properly)

Short stories written for collections are written in a completely different style to short stories written for competitions.

Recently, I’ve been writing stories to submit to online journals and competitions, while reading a short story collection.

My own work has been geared to jumping off the page, attracting the editor/judge’s attention from the off, and holding it until the very last sentence. And, preferably, having it linger in their mind while they move on to the next submission.

The collection, however, has been more placid, like a warm chocolate brownie rolling around in your mouth, slow and precise and a little bit meandering until it hits the crescendo, the crux.

21151201_1860500257298687_4500366284704478189_nThis might, of course, be completely obvious to you. Probably very obvious to authors who write commissioned pieces – looking at the market before the consider the execution of their story – but I don’t think I’ve ever really considered the difference. When I write a story, the idea comes, then the title, then the first line – usually in that order, and usually pretty quickly. Bam, bam, bam! The story is on the page before I consider what I’m going to do with it.

I intend to use this revelation wisely!

 

What have you discovered about writing, recently?

As a reader, have you considered the differences in the stories you read?

Am I really the last person to have figured this out?


 

You can read my 1st placed story The Fear of Ghosts on the Dark Tales website for another couple of weeks, until next month’s winner is announced. I’d love to know what you think of it, if you haven’t told me already! And if you loved it, you can always tell me again 😉

 

Just a quick update, while I wait…

It’s been almost four weeks since I finished my novel and sent it to my beta readers. I’ve had one come back, and one giving intriguing updates. As hard as it is, I haven’t looked at those first comments, and I haven’t opened the ms at all in that time. I’m quite proud of myself for giving it so much space… and a little terrified at what I might find when I look at it again.

In the meantime, #1 son did this…

dig

… and, to be honest, I found it a bit of a struggle on the day. But I’m over it now, and looking forward to watching the next stage of his life unfold.

I planned to write some brand new short stories this summer, but in fact I refreshed a couple and sent them off to competitions, and I have another couple to work through to do the same with. Every time I tried to write something new, nothing happened – my pen froze above the page and refused to make contact.

On Saturday morning, however, very early and after my second mug of tea, I managed to write a new character. I have no idea where the story is going, but I’ve been doing some pretty interesting research into premonitions and Count St Germain, neither of which may go anywhere, but it’s been really interesting and a little chilling.

I haven’t managed as much cake or chocolate as I planned, but there’s still a few more weeks of August left!

#ThrowbackThursday – You. I. Us is finally here! (And a giveaway)

Today’s Throwback Thursday post come from June 2016, just a few months ago, on the day my latest book was published. Below are details of a Goodreads giveaway that will be running for the next 10 days, so I thought a quick introduction for people who don’t know about it would be a good idea.

Happy birthday You. I. Us., you gorgeous thing!

It feels like I’ve been anticipating this day for a long time – in fact, I signed the contract in April 2015!

Writing these stories was a lot of fun, and completely different from the way I usually write. Because of the short length of each one, I curled up for a week – wrapped in a thick cardigan, because it was winter – and just wrote whatever came into my head. Several stories remain unchanged from those initial sessions, others merged together, a couple were thrown away for being rubbish. A few more – for example, Ode to River and Growing Apart – are autobiographical, which was an interesting experiment.

I want to say a huge thank you to Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius from Vine Leaves Press for all their hard work on this book, for the cover art (still so beautiful!) and for rapping my knuckles every time they saw a semi-colon. I have not completely overcome my semi-colon addiction, but I do consider their usage a little more.

Thank you too, to Kyra Lennon, for reading the first draft of the stories and throwing out the weakest links.

Next week, my blog tour starts. I’ll be answering a question a day, provided by some awesome bloggers. I hope you can join me!

Publication
date
: June 10, 2016
Genre: Short Stories (Single Author)



Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository // Kobo // iBooks // Nook



In You. I. Us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the
edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”



And here’s the giveaway. Please share – there are three books to give away, so the more the merrier.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

You. I. Us. by Annalisa Crawford

You. I. Us.

by Annalisa Crawford

Giveaway ends January 27, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway